War and the future: Italy, France and Britain at war eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 218 pages of information about War and the future.
with a feeling of having covered the whole ground in a thoroughly safe manner.  Or they will adopt an air of critical aloofness.  They will say, “How is it possible to foretell what may happen in this tremendous sea of change?” And then, with an air of superior modesty, they will go on doing—­whatever they feel inclined to do.  Many others, a degree less simple in their methods, will take some entirely partial aspect, arrive at some guesswork decision upon that, and then behave as though that met every question we have to face.  Or they will make a sort of admonitory forecast that is conditional upon the good behaviour of other people.  “Unless the Trade Unions are more reasonable,” they will say.  Or, “Unless the shipping interest is grappled with and controlled.”  Or, “Unless England wakes up.”  And with that they seem to wash their hands of further responsibility for the future.

One delightful form of put-off is the sage remark, “Let us finish the war first, and then let us ask what is going to happen after it.”  One likes to think of the beautiful blank day after the signing of the peace when these wise minds swing round to pick up their deferred problems....

I submit that a man has not done his duty by himself as a rational creature unless he has formed an idea of what is going on, as one complicated process, until he has formed an idea sufficiently definite for him to make it the basis of a further idea, which is his own relationship to that process.  He must have some notion of what the process is going to do to him, and some notion of what he means to do, if he can, to the process.  That is to say, he must not only have an idea how the process is going, but also an idea of how he wants it to go.  It seems so natural and necessary for a human brain to do this that it is hard to suppose that everyone has not more or less attempted it.  But few people, in Great Britain at any rate, have the habit of frank expression, and when people do not seem to have made out any of these things for themselves there is a considerable element of secretiveness and inexpressiveness to be allowed for before we decide that they have not in some sort of fashion done so.  Still, after all allowances have been made, there remains a vast amount of jerry-built and ready-made borrowed stuff in most of people’s philosophies of the war.  The systems of authentic opinion in this world of thought about the war are like comparatively rare thin veins of living mentality in a vast world of dead repetitions and echoed suggestions.  And that being the case, it is quite possible that history after the war, like history before the war, will not be so much a display of human will and purpose as a resultant of human vacillations, obstructions, and inadvertences.  We shall still be in a drama of blind forces following the line of least resistance.

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War and the future: Italy, France and Britain at war from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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